A Tunnel would cost $9 per rider it generates for Eastside light rail

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Looking at the financials for light rail in Bellevue, the Tunnel option just doesn’t make fiscal sense. Here are the numbers…

A tunnel would cost 77% more than the Vision Line ($430 MM more).

While many claim the Vision Line would reduce ridership, the Transit study determined that ridership would only be 5% lower.

So here’s the killer question: How cost efficient is the tunnel? Well, simply, not very. After 50 years of ridership (assuming light rail were ready to go today and at steady-state ridership), the Tunnel option would cost $9 PER RIDER it generates over the Vision Line. With expected fares to cost ~$3 or so, this just doesn’t make sense. The Vision Line is much more sensible, costing $1.06 per rider in infrastructure costs.

The answer is a no-brainer. Generating 95% of the ridership at about half the cost is an easy winner. Paying over $9.00 per rider doesn’t make any sense.

You can read the full report here. You can read previous praise of Kevin Wallace’s plan here.

Note: Infrastructure Cost Per Rider assumes steady-state volume over 50 years. “Vision Line” allocates total riders to Total Vision Line Cost. “Additional Ridership Generated From Tunnel Line” allocates the higher cost of the tunnel ($430 MM) to the additional ridership generated (5% higher ridership over 50 years).

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